Contracting Life

Contractor news round-up: July 2021

If we’re being honest, gathering up this month’s top news was a little harder than normal. Not because it was…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

If we’re being honest, gathering up this month’s top news was a little harder than normal. Not because it was difficult to find any (quite the contrary, in fact, as there’s loads) but because we’re still recovering from the heatwave. So, whether you’ve enjoyed the extra sun in July, or are praying for it to stay away, why not grab an ice cream and check out our round-up of all the key contractor news from July.

Lockdown is over

With the last legal restrictions in England lifted on the 19th July, lockdown is finally over. We know that this doesn’t mean the pandemic is over – and the rapidly rising infection rates and ‘pingdemic’ pay testament to that – but it does mean that social distancing and mask-wearing are no longer legally enforced.

Yes, some businesses, services and public transport services are still enforcing them, and many people are choosing to wear masks for the time-being, but life is still returning to something like normal.

For a lot of people, including contractors, this means getting back to work (even if that is still working from home). However, things have been so strange for so long, and so much has changed, that things can feel very complicated, so we’ve put together a handy guide on just how contractors can get themselves ready for this.

SEISS Grant 5 is here

The fifth and final Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant opened on the 28th July, covering the period between 1 May 2021 and 30 September 2021. If you’re potentially eligible based on your tax returns, HMRC will contact you to invite you to make a claim, although you have to decide if your business has been affected by COVID-19 in such a way as to make you eligible.

You can find the full eligibility criteria and other information on our blog.

It’s worth noting that the fifth SEISS grant is slightly different to the previous ones as your final grant amount will be determined not only by three months’ average trading profits, but also by the fall in your business’s turnover.

IR35 is still making waves

Well, HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool is, at any rate. ContractorUK reported at the very end of June that data released by the tax office shows that out of 1,018,250 uses of the tool between November 2020 and May 2021, CEST gave out 210,000 ‘unable to determine’ results. That’s an indecisive result rate of 21% which, given that HMRC had previously claimed the figure was just 15%, is pretty embarrassing.

Put in simple terms, in more than one-in-five cases, HMRC’s own tool can’t apply its own rules to make a determination.

Thankfully, as we noted on our blog at the start of July, there are alternatives out there to CEST. These include hybrid status determination tools such as Kingsbridge’s IR35 Status Tool, which refers all borderline results to one of our in-house IR35 specialists for a manual review so that you and your end client can be confident in the result.

Of course, it’s also worth having IR35 insurance in place should HMRC decide to launch an investigation into you. We’ve outlined all of the benefits of IR35 insurance in this feature, and it’s worth noting that Kingsbridge’s IR35 Protect insurance flexes to cover whoever holds the tax liability in your contractor supply chain, whether that’s you, your end client or your recruiter, giving everyone some peace of mind.

The rise of cybercrime

While lockdown has prevented many people from earning an income, it’s really benefitted scammers and cyber-criminals. It was reported that incidences of scams such as phishing, ransomware and malware grew from 5,000 per week in February 2020, to more than 200,000 per week by April 2021, which is largely down to the global move to working from home.

It’s easy to dismiss cybercrime as only targeting big businesses but, as we shared on our blog recently, 41% of European SMEs experienced a phishing scam last year, while 40% fell victim to a web-based attack, and 39% were targeted by malware. You know yourself that your own limited company will fall into that SME category, so take a look at our feature on cybercrime to ensure you know what to look out for and how to protect yourself and your business.

Well, that’s it for July’s news round-up. But we’ll be back in August with another round-up of the contractor news that affects you. In the meantime, keep an eye on our blog for all of the latest news and features.

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